Friday, July 8, 2016

She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies

A wonderful reddit thread answering the question, What is your favorite description of female beauty in literature?

Among the responses:
“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
— J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”

“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.”
- Raymond Chandler, "The Little Sister"

"He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking"
- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

"To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else's heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell."
- Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

"She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes; Thus mellowed to that tender light Which heaven to gaudy day denies"
- Lord Byron

"Her body is most beauteous,
being for all things amorous
fashioned very curiously
of roses and of ivory.
The immaculate crisp head
is such as only certain dead
and careful painters love to use
for their youngest angels (whose
praising bodies in a row
between slow glories fleetly go.)
Upon a keen and lovely throat
the strangeness of her face doth float,
which in eyes and lips consists
-- alway upon the mouth there trysts
curvingly a fragile smile
which like a flower lieth (while
within the eyes is dimly heard
a wistful and precarious bird.)
Springing from fragrant shoulders small,
ardent, and perfectly withal
smooth to stroke and sweet to see
as a supple and young tree,
her slim lascivious arms alight
in skilful wrists which hint at flight
-- my lady's very singular
and slenderest hands moreover are
(which as lilies smile and quail)
of all things perfect the most frail."
- e.e. cummings, Puella Mea

"Before Stockdale had got far with his meal, a tap sounded on the door behind him, and on his telling the inquirer to come in, a rustle of garments caused him to turn his head. He saw before him a fine and extremely well-made young woman, with dark hair, a wide, sensible, beautiful forehead, eyes that warmed him before he knew it, and a mouth that was in itself a picture to all appreciative souls."
- Thomas Hardy, The Distracted Preacher

"Wherever she was, there was Eden."
- Mark Twain, Eve's Diary

"Upon the breeze she spread her golden hair/that in a thousand gentle knots was turned/and the sweet light beyond all radiance burned/in eyes where now that radiance is rare;
and in her face there seemed to come an air/ of pity, true or false, that I discerned:/ I had love's tinder in my breast unburned,/ was it a wonder if it kindled there?
She moved not like a mortal, but as though/ she bore an angel's form, her words had then/ a sound that simple human voices lack;/
a heavenly spirit, a living sun/ was what I saw; now, if it is not so,/ the wound's not healed because the bow goes."
- Petrarch, Sonnet 90

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